Car Insurance insisting on car being salvaged

My son's car was involved in a minor accident - and his insurance company, without even seeing any photos of the damage have decided 'the vehicle may be a total loss, which means it is uneconomical to repair, therefore we have appointed our salvage company Copart to collect and inspect your car' Its 'book value' is £4,000 so not an expensive car, but not a cheap one. How can this be? Surely they need to send an assessor to asses the damage. If the car gets taken away by Copart, I am never likely to see it again! I just don't understand how they can appoint a salvage company to come and take away the vehicle - I would be fine if an assessor came and assessed it at the house and said it was unrepairable - both cars were travelling at about 15mph so I cannot see it being a write off. Help please!
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  • Nobbie1967
    Nobbie1967 Posts: 1,447
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    There may be reasons other than level of damage that make it a write off. Parts availability may be an issue for this model which will result in a long period of hire car while it is repaired. It also doesn’t take much to write off a £4K car and a 15mph crash is fairly substantial. At the end of the day it’s a judgement call for the insurance company on whether it’s worth spending the time assessing the damage and managing the repair process rather than just dispatching it to Copart and paying out replacement cost.

    I assume your son was as fault, if the other party admitted fault you could deal with the third party insurer direct and get a payout then repair the car yourself.
  • Car_54
    Car_54 Posts: 8,143
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    Until the insurer actually  pays, the car is your son's property and they can't take it away without his permission.

    If he speaks to the insurers ASAP (tonight?) they may agree to sell the car back to him for the scrap value. That will leave him with the car, and a sum of money which should be more than enough to have it repaired.

    BTW on a £4,000 car they are probably looking at a figure of maybe £2,500 to £3,000 as the criterion for a write-off. That doesn't get you very much in terms of repairs (to manufacturers' standards) plus replacement car hire if appropriate.


  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,184
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    Pat2524 said:
    My son's car was involved in a minor accident - and his insurance company, without even seeing any photos of the damage have decided 'the vehicle may be a total loss, which means it is uneconomical to repair, therefore we have appointed our salvage company Copart to collect and inspect your car' Its 'book value' is £4,000 so not an expensive car, but not a cheap one. How can this be? Surely they need to send an assessor to asses the damage. If the car gets taken away by Copart, I am never likely to see it again! I just don't understand how they can appoint a salvage company to come and take away the vehicle - I would be fine if an assessor came and assessed it at the house and said it was unrepairable - both cars were travelling at about 15mph so I cannot see it being a write off. Help please!
    They'll have taken the description from you... have to remember that insurers use official parts, replace rather than repair in many cases, painting will include blending in to all other neighbouring panels. If they value the car at £4k as soon as the ballpark of repairs is getting to £3k then its a write off as there is too much risk of repairs over running the estimate when more damage is found and on a £4k car they'll get a reasonable amount of salvage back to reduce the net impact to them. 

    Traditionally when your car is beyond economical repair you don't ever see it again as your insurer takes on the pain of having to deal with the paperwork etc. If you do want to retain the vehicle then make that clear, the settlement you receive will be less to represent the lost salvage but you can return the car to the road... may be more or less than the settlement depending on if you accept secondhand parts, mismatching paint etc
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,345
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    How minor is minor?  If it's just appearance then there's nothing to say he can't keep the car and take money from the insurer and maybe go get the repairs done himself.  Or not.  That's what I did when someone crumpled the passenger side door.  The door still worked but look a bit of a mess.  I got paid about half the car's value and drove it for another year when it failed it's MOT and I sold it as I actually no longer needed it.   
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • daveyjp
    daveyjp Posts: 12,395
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    Pause the claim and get a second opinion from a bodyshop on likely costs.

    A £250 repair job one can quickly become £2.5k once an insurance company gets involved.
  • Car_54
    Car_54 Posts: 8,143
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    Just to add, if the OP’s son does keep the car it will be recorded as a write-off (Cat N?), which will affect the value when/if he comes to replace it. But maybe not by much at this end of the market.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,184
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    Car_54 said:
    Just to add, if the OP’s son does keep the car it will be recorded as a write-off (Cat N?), which will affect the value when/if he comes to replace it. But maybe not by much at this end of the market.
    But as long as they get more than the salvage deduction then they are quids in already having already been paid out in full for the cars worth. 
  • Goudy
    Goudy Posts: 1,431
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    edited 24 November 2023 at 7:20AM
    It's not written off yet but the insurance company are obviously considering it likely to be uneconomical to repair.
    It's not so much the damage, but the cost of repairing the damage compared to the vehicles value to them.

    The insurance company don't have their own assessors and engineers dotted all around the country, so they will use approved body shops and places like Copart to assess the damage and cost out the repairs for them.

    They seem to be sending it to them as in their experience it's likely the best place for it under these circumstances.

    To the insurance company it has a relatively low value, particularly in todays climate with the rising cost of parts, labour, electricity and so on.
    It's why insurance premiums have shot up these last two years, it's become they expensive to repair cars that are generally more expensive.
    The cost of running a paint booth alone is staggeringly expensive even before you put hours and hours of labour into the prep work.

    It's all a balancing act for the insurance company. What is the cheapest option.

    As for the £4000, that is a bit misleading. Unfortunately son won't get the whole market value back if they were at fault.
    There will be someone at fault and policy excesses will be payable/deductible on that claim, either by the third party's insurance or your son, if they were at blame.

    Lets say for an example your son was at fault.
    Now the cars value to the insurance company might be something like £4000 minus the compulsory and voluntary excesses, which could be quite high for a young driver.
    Combined it might be as high as £750 to £1000 or even higher.

    I've been driving decades and have £250 compulsory and £250 voluntary, so I'd be down £500 from the off, but that's only a small fraction of my cars current value, which isn't the case with a £4000 car, it's a large slice.

    The car's scrap value might be £1000 to £1500, so to the insurance company they might only have a balance on the claim of £1500.
    There are costs of dragging it to and from body shops, storage and so on.
    A couple of hundred pounds worth of damage is really going to make it uneconomical to repair in the eyes of the insurance company.

    In this example, getting it towed direct to Copart means there's little in the way of repeated towing costs and storage.
    They will quickly get a chunk back from the salvage value and the excesses are a hefty chunk of the cars pre accident value, so the overall costs to them are very little.

       
  • facade
    facade Posts: 6,907
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    edited 24 November 2023 at 10:48AM
    Goudy said:
    It's not written off yet but the insurance company are obviously considering it likely to be uneconomical to repair.
    It's not so much the damage, but the cost of repairing the damage compared to the vehicles value to them.

    The insurance company don't have their own assessors and engineers dotted all around the country, so they will use approved body shops and places like Copart to assess the damage and cost out the repairs for them.

    They seem to be sending it to them as in their experience it's likely the best place for it under these circumstances.

    To the insurance company it has a relatively low value, particularly in todays climate with the rising cost of parts, labour, electricity and so on.
    It's why insurance premiums have shot up these last two years, it's become they expensive to repair cars that are generally more expensive.
    The cost of running a paint booth alone is staggeringly expensive even before you put hours and hours of labour into the prep work.

    It's all a balancing act for the insurance company. What is the cheapest option.

    As for the £4000, that is a bit misleading. Unfortunately son won't get the whole market value back if they were at fault.
    There will be someone at fault and policy excesses will be payable/deductible on that claim, either by the third party's insurance or your son, if they were at blame.

    Lets say for an example your son was at fault.
    Now the cars value to the insurance company might be something like £4000 minus the compulsory and voluntary excesses, which could be quite high for a young driver.
    Combined it might be as high as £750 to £1000 or even higher.

    I've been driving decades and have £250 compulsory and £250 voluntary, so I'd be down £500 from the off, but that's only a small fraction of my cars current value, which isn't the case with a £4000 car, it's a large slice.

    The car's scrap value might be £1000 to £1500, so to the insurance company they might only have a balance on the claim of £1500.
    There are costs of dragging it to and from body shops, storage and so on.
    A couple of hundred pounds worth of damage is really going to make it uneconomical to repair in the eyes of the insurance company.

    In this example, getting it towed direct to Copart means there's little in the way of repeated towing costs and storage.
    They will quickly get a chunk back from the salvage value and the excesses are a hefty chunk of the cars pre accident value, so the overall costs to them are very little.

       

    Plus, it is going to Copart anyway, as the insurer can't allow you to buy the salvage, because I'm sure that they will have a contract with Copart to sell them all salvage at a fixed % of the pre-accident value.

    Sometimes Copart win and they get a car that will auction for far more than that %, sometimes they lose and they have a CAT A that they have to crush & weigh in for less, but overall Copart do very nicely paying that fixed % for everything.


    If they allowed cherry picking of the ones with a slight scratch or a cracked tail light Copart would have lowered that % to account for a higher proportion of the salvage they get being CAT A or of low auction value.

    As Goudy says, the final cost to the insurer of writing off a car could be in the low hundreds, or even a profit if the car is low enough value with a high enough excess!
    I want to go back to The Olden Days, when every single thing that I can think of was better.....

    (except air quality and Medical Science ;))
  • Assuming damage is as minor as you think, just tell them you will not let it go until you have agreed a figure less what they offer it to you if you buy the salvage back.  Once its gone you are at the mercy of the insurance valuation which they may raise by a little if you moan.
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